The BBC has recently reported that a robotic boat, Sea-Kit’s USV Maxlimer, will be deployed to the Tonga region of the Pacific Ocean to study Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai, an underwater volcano that erupted in January.
The Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai eruption in early 2022 was one of the strongest volcanic eruptions in nearly a century, creating a plume of ash and vapor that extended, by some estimates, approximately 35 miles into the atmosphere and triggered dramatic lightning flashes. A powerful tsunami was generated, and the event impacted the entire world as the pressure wave spread out in all directions, completing a full circumnavigation of the globe.
Prior to the eruption, the volcano connected two small islands west of Tonga. Post-eruption the islands are now separated by water. The USV Maxlimer’s mission will be to map out the current state of the caldera. Cameras and other instruments will also measure the water’s ability to support marine life. Scientists hope to understand what caused the strength of the eruption and what triggered the tsunami in an effort to aid nearby islanders with better hazard preparedness.
For further exploration:
Under the Surface: Pressure-Induced Planetary-Scale Waves, Volcanic Lightning, and Gaseous Clouds Caused by the Submarine Eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai Volcano Provide an Excellent Research Opportunity